UAE: 1 IN 8 PEOPLE HAS DIABETES IN THE COUNTRY, STUDY REVEALS
With an increasing caseload of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes globally, a multidisciplinary approach is needed to improve treatment outcomes, said a top medical expert.
Cardiovascular, renal, and metabolic (CRM) conditions affect more than one billion people worldwide and account for up to 20 million deaths annually, becoming the leading cause of death globally. In the Mena region, nearly 73 million adults live with diabetes.
“This number reflects the highest proportion of people living with the disease (diabetes) compared to other regions and is based on the International Diabetes Federation’s most recent study published in 2021.
“In the UAE, 1 in 8 people aged between 20 and 79 has type 2 diabetes, marking an alarmingly high rate for the population’s overall health as this is a chronic illness that needs to be managed effectively,” said Dr Jalal Nafach, consultant endocrinologist, Dubai Diabetes Centre, Dubai Health Authority, during an interview.
“Additionally, 4,343 deaths are associated with diabetes on an annual basis in the UAE.”
However, he said the total number of people living with the disease in the country could be “a lot higher”/ many people are left undiagnosed
“Many people are being undiagnosed as they show no symptoms in the early stages of the diseas,” the expert added.
The pancreas, the heart, and the kidneys have an important connection as they have the potential to both positively and negatively impact each other. This interconnectivity means that when a person experiences disease in one of these areas, it increases the chances of one or all the other systems being affected.
“The body is made of complex systems that work together to create a state of balance. With type 2 diabetes, conditions of the heart, the pancreas and the kidneys are primary examples of this interconnectivity. Let’s take the renal system as an example. Having type 2 diabetes can damage blood vessels in the kidneys, which makes them not function as well as they normally would. Eventually, this can lead to chronic kidney disease, and should the condition worsen, this could ultimately result in kidney failure. To add to the extent of this interconnectivity, if a patient has high blood pressure, then kidney damage could worsen and chances of having a heart attack and stroke would increase,” said Dr Nafach, who is an American board-certified endocrinologist, University of Nebraska Medical Center in Nebraska, US.
A collaborative multidisciplinary approach may increase the chances of improving treatment.
A diverse team of experts can coordinate the treatment of related conditions to help reduce the effect of the disease on the cardiovascular, renal and metabolic systems of patients living with type 2 diabetes.
“Traditionally, managing type 2 diabetes was delivered through a single specialist setting with a primary focus on controlling blood sugar levels. However, now that the landscape for treating type 2 diabetes has evolved, it’s become vital to seriously consider the possibility of preventing cardiovascular, renal and metabolic conditions as well.”
Dr Nafach underlined that the magnitude of data from the region shows how seriously the interconnectivity should be taken and the need for a multisystem control to be in place.
“The market currently offers treatment solutions for multi-organ protection. When combined with a multidisciplinary approach to care, this can boost clinical practice and positively impact patient outcomes on their journey to better health.”
Dr Nafach noted that he aims to raise awareness about the factors which may put anyone at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
“The most common factors include a family history of diabetes, pre-existing conditions such as high blood pressure and carrying extra weight. The risk increases with age and is amplified with an unhealthy lifestyle, such as smoking or having an overall sedentary lifestyle. Whether you have any other risk factors or not, if you’re over 40 your risk of type 2 diabetes and other conditions is higher and as a healthcare expert, I urge patients to check their blood sugar levels by getting advice from their specialist and committing to regular health checkups that include blood sugar tests,” Dr Nafach said and added that any medical situation can be managed if people with diabetes or heart and kidney conditions consult doctors and have an open conversation.
GET SCREENED FOR LUNG CANCER EVEN IF YOU’VE NEVER SMOKED
Medical experts at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi have encouraged members of the public to get screened for lung cancer, even if they have never smoked iin their lives
While smokers are at the highest risk of lung cancer, people with a family history of lung cancer, who are over 50, or who are exposed to second-hand smoke, are also at risk.
Usman Ahmad, department Chair of Thoracic Surgery in the Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi said: “Lung cancer is one of the most common, complex, and aggressive forms of cancer, and the second most lethal type of cancer in the UAE. But thanks to early detection, better understanding of the disease, new treatments, and less invasive surgeries, the outlook for a person diagnosed with lung cancer is better than ever. We encourage people with a predisposition for this disease, particularly high-risk individuals with a smoking history and aged 50 years and above, to be screened at their earliest convenience.”
According to the World Health Organisation, lung cancer was the second most common cancer worldwide in 2020, with 2.21 million cases and 1.8 million deaths. Despite advances in therapy, it also remains the most fatal cancer in the world.
November is designated as Lung Cancer Awareness Month.
Secondhand smoke from other people’s cigarettes, pipes, shisha, or cigars also puts people at risk. Smoke from any burning nicotine product contains harmful toxins that remain in the air that everyone breathes in—even after a smoker is no longer nearby. People who are exposed to cigarette smoke, or its components, frequently have long-lasting pathological changes in their lungs, which can cause a malignant tumour to grow.
Dr. Ali Saeed Wahla, Staff Physician in the Respiratory Institute at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi said, “The message is simple: early detection saves lives. Unfortunately, lung cancer is often caught too late. Patients diagnosed in the earlier stages have access to a greater range of therapeutic alternatives. At Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, we always recommend regular screening. We recommend once a year for high-risk groups, and even for people as young as 20 years old who experience reoccurring symptoms like coughing, shortness of breath or ongoing chest pain. Simple lifestyle changes that people can make—quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly—can also lower risk and help prevent the disease from developing.”
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s multi-disciplinary lung cancer program provides customized and coordinated care. Cutting-edge technologies such as CT imaging and molecular and genetic testing help identify lung cancer early and enhance patient outcomes. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi also provides a wide range of diagnostic tests, such as endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS) and transthoracic CT-guided biopsy for early intervention, and minimally invasive treatment techniques such as video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS).
The hospital was designated as the official pilot lung cancer screening center for the emirate by the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi in 2021.
UAE DOCTORS WARN: E-CIGARETTES COULD BE BRINGING BACK A DANGEROUS HABIT BY MAKING SMOKING LOOK COOL
Doctors in the UAE are alarmed by how the youth are increasingly taking to e-cigarettes after targeted campaigns make them look cool. Their comments came after a study conducted in the US found that more adolescent e-cigarette users report vaping within five minutes of waking up.
According to the study published in the medical journal JAMA Network Open, teens are getting addicted to e-cigarettes younger; with addictions being more intense.
Interestingly, between 2014 and 2017, less than one per cent of e-cigarette users reported using the devices within five minutes of waking up, while by 2021, the total drastically grew to 10.3 per cent.
A doctor in the UAE told Khaleej Times that when “we sleep, our body goes through detoxification”.
“Sleep allows our body and mind to recharge. After a night’s sleep, our body is clean from all the toxins. When we smoke as soon as we wake up, our body gets intoxicated which is harmful to the body. Smoking raises the individual’s risk of developing several types of diseases.”
According to Dr Harkirat S. Wilkhoo, health and lifestyle Coach at RAK Hospital, the youth seem to be trying vapes and e-cigarettes as a “cool factor” under peer pressure.
“E- cigarettes are not at all cool. It gives the pleasure of euphoria, but they are very harmful as they have heavy metals and carcinogenic chemicals which are absorbed directly into deep lung tissue,” Dr Harkirat said.
A World Health Organisation (WHO) report last year said consumption of e-cigarettes is on the rise and these products have been marketed to children and adolescents by tobacco companies, using thousands of appealing flavours and misleading claims.
Peculiarly, trends in teen use of e-cigarettes differ from those of adults, as data show fewer adults use the products altogether.
The WHO is also concerned that teens who use these products are up to three times more likely to use tobacco products in the future and there are fears that e-cigarettes would create a new generation of smokers.
Awareness drive in UAE
In the UAE, the sale of tobacco products — including e-cigarettes — to those under 18 is banned. Smoking in private cars when a child under the age of 12 is present is also not allowed.
Dr. Salman Abdul Bari, specialist in internal medicine and incharge of accident and emergency department at RAK Hospital, said e-cigarettes cause breathing issues.
“It has clearly shown to harm the developing adolescent brain which keeps developing till the age of 25 causing memory and learning issues, mental health issues, depression and addiction and damage to the nerves as well,” said Dr. Salman.
Lately, many universities have been conducting awareness campaigns by educating students through posters, videos, interactive sessions and most importantly changing the perception and the false beliefs.
On being asked about some smokers quitting cigarettes and opting vape/e-cigarettes. And whether or not that substitute has any lesser effect on the smoker, Dr. Khalid Shukri, Functional Medicine Physician at Wellth in Jumeirah said smoking must be stopped as a whole. “Switching to e-cigarettes does not do good for your body. Smoking can cause the early aging process of your skin. Eventually, it can also affect your brain and heart in the future,” Dr Khalid told Khaleej Times.
The UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention (Mohap) has time and again highlighted the dangers of consuming tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. Authorities block websites that advertise and promote electronic tobacco products.